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Saskatchewan NDP leader, former cabinet minister at odds over candidacy

Opposition Leader Ryan Meili speaks to media during budget bay at the Legislative Building in Regina on Wednesday March 20, 2019. Saskatchewan's Opposition NDP leader is apologizing for the Sixties Scoop.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Michael Bell.
Opposition Leader Ryan Meili speaks to media during budget bay at the Legislative Building in Regina on Wednesday March 20, 2019. Saskatchewan's Opposition NDP leader is apologizing for the Sixties Scoop.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Michael Bell.

Saskatchewan’s NDP leader says his decision to block a former cabinet minister from running in the upcoming provincial election is legitimate.

But the candidate says the move isn’t justifiable.

Sandra Morin won a contested nomination to represent the party in the Regina constituency of Walsh Acres in the October election.

She held the seat from 2003 to 2011, and served as a minister of culture, youth and recreation while the NDP was in government.

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Morin, now a civilian employee with the RCMP, said she was told in a phone call a couple of weeks ago that she wouldn’t be receiving an endorsement from NDP Leader Ryan Meili, which she needs in order to run. She also received a letter about the refusal on Wednesday.

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Morin declined to disclose the specific reasons cited by Meili, saying she doesn’t want to damage the party and spread “conjecture.”

“I can tell you unequivocally that there is nothing of a charge. There’s nothing criminal. There is absolutely nothing nefarious,” she said, adding that if she had been charged with a crime, she wouldn’t have a job with police.

“It’s a difference of opinion,” said Morin.

“It should have been dealt with through a process. There was no process and therefore, unfortunately, it’s led to this.”

Morin said she provided disclosure to the party as part of vetting for the nomination contest and no new information came to light.

“What’s (Meili’s) motivation for doing this?” she asked. “I am the only female candidate running in this election that has any experience as a government MLA or in cabinet.”

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Meili said in a statement Wednesday that the decision to remove Morin wasn’t made easily.

“But the reasons for this choice are compelling and I stand firmly behind this decision,” he said.

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“The former candidate was informed of those reasons verbally on more than one occasion, and has also been provided with those well-founded reasons in writing.”

Barb Dedi, president of the NDP’s constituency association, said she was shocked after the party called two weeks ago about a new nomination date.

She said the group plans to challenge the decision.

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Morin said she’s also consulting with her legal team about next steps.

“It’s not just about my candidacy. It’s about the people that have invested a significant amount of time, energy and resources for over a year and a half,” she said.

“If they want to continue to fight for the candidacy of Sandra Morin, that Sandra Morin will stand right alongside with them.”